Motor Crush TPB #1
On Sale June 14th
Created by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr
Colorist: Heather Danforth
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
Domino Swift is a motorcycle racer for the World Grand Prix. Her next big race is against motorcycle favorite Decimus Wexler. In the top left corner of every page, there’s even a descending countdown to give the impression that the big race will be the close of the volume. But unfortunately for Domino, that’s not meant to be.
Motor Crush builds a plot that is much more complex, and much more illegal, than first appearances may imply.
The Core of Motor Crush
Motor Crush starts with street races called Cannonballs. Domino carries her nail paddle (as seen on the cover) in these, so these races shouldn’t be minimized, despite not being “the big race.” But more importantly, Cannonballs get Domino the prize that she needs: Crush. Crush is the pink liquid for juicing bikes to ride faster, or the fuel equivalent of steroids. Crush is a fascinating twist, especially since putting a bike under the influence has a much different connotation than putting a human under the influence.
But with Domino not wanting to use Crush to cheat, trying to figure out what else a drug like Crush could be useful for makes for a mighty hook.
Volume 1’s Performance
Domino is a strong woman of color protagonist, but some of the other characters are painted as helpless in a way that’s easy to resent. Domino’s ex, Lola, is a smart and capable mechanic who gets put in “damsel in distress” situations that just make her look bad. On more than one occasion, she’s proven ready to defend herself, yet the comic remains loyal to the contrivance that Domino needs to save her.
Further, Domino’s dad knows she’s been participating in Cannonballs, which avoids the cliché of Domino needing to sneak around behind his back, but creates a unique problem of him seeming too accepting of her involvement. And he’s allowed to be okay with it, but then he should also be able to provide Domino with more substantial support than he does. Instead, he keeps this strange outlier position in the narrative where he’s both aware of what’s going on but doesn’t participate. He is involved, but only at a distance. This would be more rational if we were supposed to see him as a negligent parent, but that doesn’t appear to be the case either.
Upcoming Motor Crush
One storyline that hopefully gets more play in the upcoming volume is the social media presence that fans ask for of the riding professionals. In the beginning, this gets a lot of attention, with the cool design choice to have infographics on the panels, which presents the comic as if it’s airing live on a sports channel. But as Domino spends more time amongst criminals, these graphics have less reason to exist, but were a nice touch.
A floating sphere, called a Catball, follows Domino to stream interviews as part of her contract. Like the Catball, with its expressive slit eyes, you’re okay with Domino dodging broadcasts at first, but then it begins to happen too often. Overall, as more and more ideas are introduced, there aren’t enough pages in the volume to expand upon them.
Heather Danforth’s colors and dot gradient make the whites and pastels of the garage feel like a different world from the sensitive hot pinks at night: it really works to designate the garage as a safe place from the danger Domino gets mixed up in. Additionally, Aditya Bidikar’s pop letters give punch to the sound effects.
Creators Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr have landed on a bright concept that’s difficult to categorize. There’s Hunger Games in the World Grand Prix, Mad Max in the Cannonballs, and I can’t say what’s in Domino’s childhood, but it won’t be expected. This mixing of genres should allow Motor Crush to appeal to a wide variety of readers, especially those keen for more resilient women to take the lead in comics. Volume 2 could see Motor Crush top itself, but not until it crushes the impulse to rush.
Rachel’s Rating: 6.0/10
*Advance review copy provided for review by the publisher, Image Comics. Images also from Image Comics.